In the words of institution, the Apostle Paul writes
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:26
Within this context, the point is that Christ should be “shown forth” or “exhibited” in such a way that He is offered to the faithful. Christ should be held forth as our Savior. The promises of the gospel should be held forth to the Church as a whole and to each person within the congregation so that they might be accepted. These promises are tendered to the congregation in the preaching of the Word. At the heart of the communion service is the invitation to accept Christ. In the eucharistic memorial, there should be a representation of Christ and the promises of the Gospel. They should be held out and exhibited. The promises should be offered even as the sacramental elements are distributed. John Owen’s commentary of this passage illustrates the point:
The very elements of the ordinance are a great representation of the proposal of Christ to a believing soul. God holds out Christ as willing to be received, with an invitation. So we show forth the Lord’s death. Sacramental Discourses, p. 541.
In this sense, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a “tendering” of the gospel. This word may be somewhat archaic today except when we refer to tending sheep. In tending sheep the shepherd sees to it that sheep are guided to good pasture and otherwise cared for. We also speak of bartenders – those who deliver the drinks that have been ordered. We also speak of “tenders”, the small boats in a harbor which care for the great men-of-war, delivering supplies to them and helping to maneuver them into position. So it is when we speak of the Lord’s Supper as tendering Christ or tendering the gospel. In the parable of the king’s feast, Jesus tells of a king who gave a feast, and when all was in readiness, he sent out his servants to tender the invitation. In this way, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper tenders the great invitation to the soul.
Furthermore, the Lord’s Supper speaks as an exhibition of Christ. The eucharistic presence is to the end of exhibiting Christ that He might be received. Thus, if Christ is present with us by way of exhibition, then we ought to be present by way of admission. In other words, it is the responsibility of the ministers to tender the gospel to the faithful, but it is the responsibility of the congregation to receive the gospel. For this reason, we should receive Christ fully in our heart during the Supper. May we not reject the invitation to the Supper as those unworthy guests in the parable of the king’s feast. May we heed the exhortation of John Owen:
If, in the name of Christ, we make a tender of Him unto you, and He be not actually received, there is but half the work done… Let Christ be received into your hearts by faith and love, upon this particular tender that he assuredly makes in this ordinance of Himself unto you; for, as I said, He hath not invited you unto an empty, painted feast or table. Sacramental Discourses, p. 575.
It is at the Lord’s Table that the invitation to receive Christ as Lord and Savior is both made and accepted.